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‘I said I wanted to take one!!!!’ Jack Grealish says he DID volunteer to take a penalty but was not picked by Gareth Southgate – after Roy Keane singled out him and Raheem Sterling for letting Bukayo Saka take England's decisive kick

Daily Mail
Daily Mail

Jack Grealish has hit back Roy Keane after being criticised by the pundit for not taking a penalty in England's Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy.

Both Mourinho and Keane questioned why senior players, including Grealish, weren't taking a penalty in the shoot-out for England after Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed from the spot.

And Grealish responded on Twitter, saying: I said I wanted to take one!!!! The gaffer has made so many right decisions through this tournament and he did tonight!
Jack Grealish has hit back at suggestions he might not have wanted to take an England penalty

'But I won’t have people say that I didn’t want to take a peno when I said I will…'

Keane offered his sympathy for the 19-year-old Saka, who missed the decisive spot-kick, and questioned why other England players didn't step up.

'If you're Grealish or Sterling, you can't have a young kid step up in front of you,' the former Republic of Ireland and Manchester United captain told ITV.

'You can't sit there and say "I see a 19-year-old kid walk in front of me, when I've played a lot more games, a lot more experience..." and Sterling, who has won trophies.

'I'm not saying he wasn't prepared, he might have been (penalty taker) six or seven, (but) you can't sit there. It must be hard to take. You've got to get in front of this kid and say "listen, I'm gonna step up in front of you".'

Grealish, 25, was one of boss Gareth Southgate's go-to players from the bench throughout the tournament and started only one match in the 1-0 win against Czech Republic.

Keane's sentiments were echoed by Jose Mourinho on talkSPORT on Monday, but the Roma manager didn't name Grealish as a player who should have stepped up.

Mourinho said: 'In this situation, where was Raheem Sterling? Where was John Stones? Where was Luke Shaw? Why didn't Jordan Henderson or Kyle Walker stay on the pitch?

'I think it's too much for a kid to have everything on his shoulders in this moment, but I don't know, I have to ask that question to Gareth because many times what happens is that players who should be there are not there, players who should be there, they run away from the responsibility.

'And because I feel Gareth is such an honest guy and is so protective of his players, I don't believe Gareth would ever say if "Player A or Player B" ran away or hid or said they were not ready to take one.'

Southgate explained after the game that it was his decision to select Saka as one of the penalty takers over the more experienced players in his squad.

'That is my responsibility,' Southgate said. 'I chose the guys to take the kicks. I told the players that nobody is on their own in that situation. We win and lose together as a team. They have been tight throughout and that’s how it needs to stay. It is my decision to give him that penalty. That is totally my responsibility. It is not him or Marcus or Jadon. We worked through them in training. That is the order we came to.

'What they have to know is none of them are on their own. We win and lose as a team. Penalties are my call. We worked in training. It’s not down to the players. Tonight it hasn’t gone for us. We know they were the best takers we had left on the pitch. Of course it’s going to be heartbreaking for the boys but they are not to blame for that.

'(Saka's) not on his own. He’s such a super boy. He’s been a star and he’s going to continue to be a star. We’ve got to be there to support and help him. He’ll get a lot of love from outside because of what he’s done in this tournament.'

On his gamble of introducing Rashford and Sancho for the shootout without having any other time on the pitch, Southgate said: 'That’s always the risk you run but they’ve been by far the best in the lead-in. To get all those attacking players on you have to do it late. It was a gamble but if you gamble earlier you maybe lose in extra time anyway.'

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